• Germany edition
 
Row continues: Nefertiti 100 yrs in German hands
Photo: DPA

Row continues: Nefertiti 100 yrs in German hands

Published: 06 Dec 2012 06:56 GMT+01:00
Updated: 06 Dec 2012 06:56 GMT+01:00

Berlin opens a major new exhibition on Thursday celebrating the centenary of the discovery of the 3,400-year-old fabled bust of Egypt's Queen Nefertiti, while a feud with Cairo over who owns it rages on.

The show at the city's New Museum showcases its most famous treasure - often said to be the most priceless depiction of the female visage after the Mona Lisa - and other booty carted home by German archaeologists after the December 6, 1912 find.

These include never-before-seen jewels of the Amarna period unearthed at the time by Ludwig Borchardt, and loans from institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and London's British Museum.

"There are artworks that belong to our collective consciousness - Nefertiti is such a work," German Culture Minister Bernd Neumann told reporters at a preview of the show entitled "In the Light of Amarna".

Nefertiti, renowned as one of history's great beauties, was the powerful wife of Pharaoh Akhenaton, remembered for having converted his kingdom to monotheism with the worship of one sun god, Aton.

The sculpture, so fragile and valuable it is barred from being lent out, is the biggest draw at the museum, which was reopened in 2009 after a major restoration by British star architect David Chipperfield and now draws about a million visitors a year.

The limestone and plaster bust, dramatically displayed at the end of a long corridor under a dim spotlight, is stunning for its almond-shaped eyes - the right of which is missing the iris, aquiline nose, high cheekbones, sensuous lips and lofty blue crown with a band of red, grey and gold.

Its chipped ears are, remarkably, the only significant sign of damage exacted over the centuries.

The sculpture is at the top of a "wish list" of five major artifacts exhibited abroad that Egypt wants returned.

The campaign to get it back, which was spearheaded by former antiquities chief Zahi Hawass, has waned since the Arab Spring as Egypt grapples with more existential issues.

But officials in Berlin suggested that the dispute was rumbling on behind the scenes, despite what it said were documents proving the bust was bought legally by the former Prussian state.

"To head off any questions, let me say there is no doubt that Nefertiti rightfully belongs to the Berlin state cultural heritage foundation," Neumann said.

He said endlessly competing ownership claims would only lead to "chaos" and insisted that Berlin took seriously its responsibility to preserve the bust for eternity.

"The real question of to whom Nefertiti belongs is easily answered - to us all," he said.

The director of Berlin's Egyptian Museum, housed in the New Museum, Friederike Seyfried, said the Arab Spring's upheaval had prevented scholarly cooperation with Egypt on the show and said she wished this could resume soon.

"I hope the political situation stabilises there and doesn't go in a direction we would regret," she said.

Amarna refers to the ruins of an ancient city founded by Akhenaton, where Borchardt and his team excavated more than 7,000 archaeological objects, about 5,500 of which made their way to Berlin.

The Berlin show will run until April 13 and features more than 1,000 of these objects including jewellery, ceramics and floor tiles from the royal palace featuring elaborate floral garlands.

A bust of Akhenaton which was restored especially for the exhibition is another keenly awaited highlight.

The show covers the art of the era, including discoveries from the sculpture workshop of Thutmose who is believed to have crafted Nefertiti, as well as the daily life of Amarna's citizens.

And it sheds new light on the work of James Simon, Borchardt's Jewish benefactor, whose contributions were largely eliminated from the historical record under the Nazis.

AFP/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

08:57 December 6, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Not a chance, Muslim Brotherhood! We know where you'll put it.

Spoiler Alert!!!

It won't be in a museum.
Today's headlines
The Local List
Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German
Photo: DPA

Nine ways to celebrate Easter like a German

From rolling wheels filled with burning hay down a hill, to waiting for a fox to bring eggs, The Local List this week looks at the nine best German Easter traditions. READ () »

Biology pupils find horse in kebab meat test
Horse? Photo: DPA

Biology pupils find horse in kebab meat test

Schoolchildren in western Germany came across horse meat while testing doner kebabs in a biology experiment. It comes a year after the horse meat scandal which showed much meat on sale in Europe had been mislabelled. READ () »

Private health insurance not worth it for workers
Photo: DPA

Private health insurance not worth it for workers

Thousands of employees paying into private health insurance in Germany get poor value for money, according to consumer experts - who recommend going private for just one group of workers. READ () »

Putin warns Merkel of Ukraine civil war
A Ukrainian policeman at a checkpoint in the eastern city of Kharkiv on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Putin warns Merkel of Ukraine civil war

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukraine was on the verge of civil war after the Kiev government sent in the army against separatists in the east of the country, the Kremlin said on Wednesday. READ () »

'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers
Free range? Photo: DPA

'Free range' chicken farmer tricks customers

A major producer of ethically certified meat has admitted to defrauding thousands of customers for years by passing off conventional chicken as free-range. But the regulator said it took swift action to deal with the case. READ () »

Op-Ed
Why Germany should stop arming the world
Saudi Arabia wants to buy 800 German Leopard 2 tanks. Photo: DPA

Why Germany should stop arming the world

Germany's weapons industry is booming, and even the vice chancellor's attempt to stop selling tanks to the Saudis is a minor concession for the world's third biggest arms exporter. But the trade is destabilizing security. READ () »

WWI colour photos go on display in Berlin
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt

WWI colour photos go on display in Berlin

An exhibition opened in Berlin last week of rare colour photos from World War I. Haunting images of soldiers in trenches take centre stage in the collection. READ () »

German economy enjoying 'solid upturn'
Photo: DPA

German economy enjoying 'solid upturn'

The German economy is currently in the middle of a "solid upturn", the government said on Tuesday, even if concerns about the fallout from Ukraine are souring investor confidence. READ () »

Wet week leads up to warmer Easter weekend
Photo: DPA

Wet week leads up to warmer Easter weekend

The days running up to Easter may be cool and wet, but the holiday weekend should be a bit warmer for most of Germany, state weather service the DWD forecast on Tuesday. READ () »

Petition seeks to remove WWII Russian tanks
One of the WWII Russian tanks near the Brandenburg Gate. Photo: DPA

Petition seeks to remove WWII Russian tanks

German newspapers launched a petition Tuesday to remove two Russian tanks from a World War II memorial in central Berlin in protest against Russia's actions in Ukraine. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: Galerie Bilderwelt
Gallery
World War I in colour photos
Photo: DPA
Society
'The mafia has infiltrated every sector in Germany'
Photo: DPA
Society
JobTalk: Why you should teach English in Germany
Photo: DPA
National
330,000 sign up against TV licence fee
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
School kids hospitalized after 'porno' party
Photo: Submitted
Frankfurt
'I'll get even with my old pal Schwarzenegger'
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The week in pictures: April 5th - April 11th
Photo: DPA
Travel
Germany to charge foreign drivers from 2016
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Ten great inventions you (probably) didn't know were German
Photo: J. Arthur White
Berlin
Clashes in Berlin as refugees tear down their own camp
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Munich's baby polar bears are finally named
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
'World's oldest' message in a bottle arrives home
Advertisement:
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The 10 best German employers to work for
CurrencyFair
Sponsored Article
Why it pays to avoid banks when making overseas transfers
Mr. Lodge
Sponsored Article
How to find a furnished rental in Munich
Sponsored Article
How to make a lasting impression in business
Hult International Business School
Sponsored Article
What they don't teach you at Business School
Photo: DPA
Society
Nine jobs you can only do in Germany
Photo:ESL
Sponsored Article
How to integrate successfully in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,082
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd